Photo by Charity Maness/Fall River County Herald Star
Alverna Kopsky and Roland Piper happily dance to the sounds of Julie Lee and the White Rose.
By Charity Maness
HOT SPRINGS – The 4th annual Climb Hot Springs seven-mile and three-mile run ran through town Saturday morning climbing stairs to raise funds and awareness for the preservation of the many staircases that wind their way through the town.
Organizer Mike Sommer purchased the event from the Rotary in order “to continue the event.” While it is the fourth run 2019 and 2020 were years that were skipped. Sommer hopes to keep the event yearly from here on out.
“It’s a wonderful way to utilize the town and bring people into the town,” explained Sommer, “and it’s an amazing time of the year.”
Participants, who could either run or walk the route, came from Minnesota, Colorado, Illinois and more to Hot Springs to participate in this event.
“This is one of the fun things we get to do when we visit,” said three-mile walker Barbara Shelton of Rolla, Mo.
“I like to participate in as many of these local walks as I can,” said fellow walker and friend Larisa Cox of Hot Springs.
“I love these events and to be able to help save the stairs so we can train on them the rest of the year,” said David Teachout of Hot Springs, as he referenced how the proceeds from his entry fee was going to support the ongoing maintenance of the city’s public staircases. He also however admitted it wasn’t about winning, “it’s all about finishing.”
Peter Schmidt of Eureka, S.D. – self-proclaimed running tourist – enjoys running wherever he can. “I came here today to do this for fun,” he said. Two weeks prior he competed in the senior games in Watertown where he won many medals, yet admitted with a laugh, “mostly because there were not many competing in my age group, 65-69.”
The seven-mile runners departed Centennial Park at 9 a.m. with a route traversing Hot Springs in order to run each of the five staircases. The three-mile runners departed 10 minutes later at 9:10 a.m.; their route included two staircases.
The seven-mile top three were: Joshua Duncan, age 44, Carpenter, Ill. (47:45); Lori Dahly, 46, Hot Springs (1:03:17); and Peter Schmidt, 65, Eureka (1:14:10).
While the runners crossed the finish line in Centennial Park, the scent of bratwurst began to fill the air as volunteers from Buffalo Dreamer and Moccasin Springs, dressed in mock lederhosen and long blonde braids, were beginning to cook up the Oktoberfest delicacy for runners and the community as a whole.
Traditional Polka music was performed by Julie Lee and the White Rose, a well known music duo from North Dakota with a following.
Jim and Brenda Albert of Broomfield, Colo., came to Hot Springs to the Oktoberfest just to hear Julie Lee and the White Rose duo.
“We are members of the Polka Club of America,” said Brenda, “we dance every opportunity we get and we really enjoy Julie Lee.”
Joe and Mary Ostry came from Scottsbluff, Neb., to join the fun. “We used to dance all the time,” said Mary, but the avenues for dancing have become much slimmer since Covid. “We looked forward to today.”
Both the Ostry’s and the Albert’s took to the dance floor every chance they could, with only small rests between songs.
Yet Daryld and June Fritz of Hot Springs listened longingly from their car, with front row parking.
“We love this music,” exclaimed Daryld, “we used to never sit down,” he laughed. “We would always be dancing.” But, now, walking with the use of a cane only allows them the joy of listening. “Now we just love to listen to it,” he said.
Dancing was the name of the game as Roland Piper, 95, of Hot Springs took every chance he could to show his moves on the dance floor. “Why, if I had known this was the music they would have been playing I would have worn my best dancing shoes,” he laughed, “and maybe a tie.”